Vladimir Putin’s Motivation Is Survival

In a current article on Truthful Observer titled, “Making Sense of Vladimir Putin’s Lengthy Sport,” Atul Singh and Glenn Carle make the case that Russia’s president has an overarching plan to deliver again the tsarist empire. They contend that Putin has thought deeply about technique and techniques and is influenced by Russian historical past, philosophy and the Orthodox Church in devising his actions. They assert that Putin’s dream is to revive modern-day Russia to its historic greatness and world energy.

Making Sense of Vladimir Putin’s Lengthy Sport


The authors suggest that the identical impulses encourage the Russian folks, and that the president is main a preferred motion. Nothing may very well be farther from the reality. Putin is an opportunist, a kleptomaniac, a thug and a mafia boss. If he had been main a preferred motion, he would enable free elections. However he doesn’t, preferring killing, poisoning and imprisoning anybody who dares to face towards him. Vladimir Putin is motivated solely by survival.

Restoring Greatness

The present disaster revolves round Ukraine, which Putin contends will not be solely an integral a part of Russia however extra resonantly the positioning of the unique Kingdom of Rus and the wellspring of the Russian peoples. By the way, the phrase “Rus” is cognate with “rower” and most definitely refers back to the Vikings who got here to the area from present-day Sweden in lengthy boats. In 882, Kyiv was taken by Prince Oleg who established the primary Rus dynasty.

This conquest is embedded in Russian consciousness, and plenty of Russians contemplate Kyiv and the encompassing lands as a necessary a part of the motherland. Nevertheless, over an extended and complex historical past, Ukraine has had many alternative rulers. For generations, Ukraine and Russia have had separate identities, and even Joseph Stalin, on the finish of World Struggle II, insisted that Ukraine was impartial and must be granted separate membership with a vote on the UN. Most Ukrainians have at all times longed for independence from Moscow’s rule.

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A stronger affect on Putin’s and plenty of Russians’ pondering is the humiliation wrought by the Germans in 1917 with the enforcement of the Brest Litovsk Treaty. In 1917, Vladimir Lenin was decided to get Russia out of the Nice Struggle at any worth. The Germans exacted crushing phrases and took the Baltic states, Ukraine and Belarus from Russia. It was a catastrophe.

Quick ahead to 2022, and the borders of that treaty are virtually similar to the present borders of NATO, plus Ukraine and Belarus. If Ukraine had been to hitch NATO (or the EU), then from Putin’s viewpoint, Moscow could be again at its lowest level of the previous 200 years and, worse, Germany would have prevailed in spite of everything.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union nonetheless actively haunting the Kremlin’s collective consciousness — President Putin referred to as it the “biggest geopolitical disaster of the century” — many Russians have sympathy for the competition that the West has taken unfair benefit of Russia’s weak point and betrayed alleged guarantees made to Mikhail Gorbachev on the finish of the Chilly Struggle concerning NATO’s eastward growth. Putin is of course decided that the ultimate act — Ukraine’s absorption into the West — doesn’t occur on his watch.

What’s extra, he thinks he has recognized an emotional, nationalistic problem which he can use to divert the Russian inhabitants from his failures. However Russia is, in truth, on the again foot, attempting to keep away from one other humiliation, not restoring its greatness.

Weak point and Decline

Wanting south, Russia has misplaced lots of the territories it gained in the course of the wars with Turkey and Iran within the 19th century. Armenia and Azerbaijan haven’t joined NATO, however Georgia wish to. Right here too, Putin is attempting to fend off extra humiliation.

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Transferring east, the Taliban victory in Afghanistan is one other catastrophe for the Kremlin. One of many predominant causes, or the least dangerous choice on the time, for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was to halt the rise of militant Islam that threatened to contaminate the Muslim states of the USSR, principally Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. You possibly can guess Moscow is apprehensive sick concerning the impact on its close to overseas and the potential of the Chechens, Dagestanis and Tartars rising up once more with Taliban assist. 

Even farther east, Putin is on harmful floor. Simply over 8 million stay within the Far East Federal District, which, at almost 7 million sq. kilometers, makes up over 40% of Russia’s territory. The regional capital Vladivostok sits on land taken from China in 1860 and is regarded by Beijing as one of many lost territories, together with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Migration from China into the area has been a problem for many years, prompting nationalist nightmares of a Chinese language takeover.

Putin could also be cozying as much as China, however from a place of weak point. Russia can’t deal with a hostile Beijing that will ultimately wish to get well territory, or extra. Putin could also be pursuing friendship and alliances with China however he’s dancing to Xi Jinping’s tune.

Vladimir Putin’s failures have led Russia into financial and nationwide decline. The inhabitants is shrinking and is projected to drop to 135 million in 2050 from immediately’s 146 million. Russia’s GDP is about $1.7 trillion, decrease than Italy’s and minuscule in comparison with the US at over $20 trillion. The financial system is wholly depending on oil and gasoline exports in a decarbonizing world. Furthermore, it’s laden with punitive sanctions. There may be not one single Russian firm that has any kind of world presence to rival the likes of Coca-Cola, Apple, Fb, Amazon, Volkswagen, Samsung or Rolls Royce.

Nonetheless Harmful

A lot is manufactured from the bungled reform of the Russian financial system after the autumn of the USSR, however Putin has now been in energy for over 20 years and has executed nothing — in truth, worse than nothing — to rectify issues. As an alternative, he has enriched himself and his henchmen enormously. Putin is now one of many richest males on this planet, with critics estimating a fortune of some $200 billion. In the meantime, GDP per capita in Russia is somewhat over $10,000 every year, ranked 81st on this planet by the World Financial institution, beneath China.

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Putin has one overriding motivation — to remain in energy. His crimes are so monumental that he fears horrible retribution ought to he ever lose his grip. Like all totalitarian dictators, he is aware of that he can solely get replaced by whoever kills him.

Putin has to play a skillful hand. He’s diverting consideration to abroad adventures and taking part in on Russian feelings. Moscow can’t probably hope to win a standard warfare, being massively outgunned by the West. Even the UK outspends Russia on protection, and Russia’s $48 billion army funds is puny in comparison with the $768 billion allotted by Washington.

However Putin continues to be harmful; he performs soiled and asymmetrically, utilizing cyberattacks, election interference, irregular forces and acts of terrorism. Even a dismembered and impoverished state can wreak havoc. Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and Iran’s missile assaults on Saudi oil services are current examples.

Russia is in a weakened state and turning into ever weaker. There isn’t any grand plan for the restoration of imperial greatness and even the USSR. The sport is survival and Putin’s personal pores and skin — and fortune. The West can play this recreation too. We have now lengthy expertise of coping with bullies, megalomaniacs and totalitarians. China too is watching rigorously, and President Xi is aware of the place his benefit lies.

The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Truthful Observer’s editorial coverage.